A new cross-sectional analysis, coupled with research published last week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, indicates that hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) can improve both bone-mineral density and bone mass/structure, with benefits that have the potential to continue up to two years after the discontinuation of treatment.
HRT is a form of therapy during which a patient receives hormones, for the purpose of supplementing a lack of naturally occurring hormones, or in order to substitute other hormones for naturally occurring hormones. Its use has been consistently studied and assessed in observational studies, case-control studies, meta-analyses, and randomized clinical trials; its applications have gradually expanded and been implemented.
Ample evidence and research further suggests that HRT is an effective first-line treatment for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis due to its anti-fracture efficacy, primarily among young postmenopausal women—and can be continued for up to a decade. These findings are specifically significant because of the inherent downfalls of current drugs and pharmaceuticals, which have demonstrated less than optimal effects on bone microarchitecture.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) has been a contentious and hotly contested topic in the medical field since its inception. Using hormones that are molecularly and chemically identical to endogenous hormones—those produced in the body—was first conceived in the 1930s, as a potential treatment for menopausal symptoms. Because BHRT is not technically manufactured with FDA oversight, many critics pounce upon the lack of regulation. Yet compounding pharmacies that have implemented proper quality assurance procedures, while using the requisite equipment and tactics, will often exceed any FDA standards for mass-produced medications. Moreover, if bioidentical hormones were widely used, the pharmaceutical and drug industries would face massive profit losses and sales.
Conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) differs from BHRT in several ways: BHRT utilizes hormones that are chemically identical to human hormones that the body makes, and customizes dosages for the individual patient. While the primary objective of BHRT is hormone balance, the goal of HRT is to prevent disease.
The idea of achieving a natural hormone balance can serve a host of diagnoses and medical issues; many people, particularly later in life, experience hormone imbalances that can contribute to HPA axis dysfunction, thyroid disease, cardiovascular disease, as well as sexual dysfunction. In attempting to treat the causes of symptoms, while simultaneously restoring depleted hormone levels, hormone replacement therapy has functioned as a solution for many who felt that they were out of options.
A recent article discussed a publication that focused on the ways in which HRT could mitigate the risk factors in developing dementia: senior author Dr. Jill Goldstein of Harvard Medical School articulated that the condition—and initial memory less—could likely be triggered by lowering levels of estrogen, during the period of menopause. The study’s clinical trials found a strong correlation between women with lower levels of estrogen and memory/cognition problems.
Dr. Goldstein further expressed the critical importance of maintaining a regular and consistent level of estradiol (the type of estrogen that has the great effect on brain function), as it has significant potential in limiting the development of Alzheimer’s.
Learn more about BHRT at our upcoming symposium in March.